|Our Wind & Weather Koi...|
|Our Wind & Weather octopus...|
|Our Wind & Weather goat table...|
Thank you Wind & Weather!
|Dancin' the Love at Wind & Weather HQ!|
After dinner we "followed the music" around downtown Charlottesville, which led us to a great live band playing on a gallery rooftop & kegs of beer, and then to Fellini's #9 a really excellent live-band karaoke bar with everyone from 20-somethings to 60-somethings singing the hits of the 60s! The next day we began our Wind & Weather getaway with a morning wine-tasting at Reynard Florence Vineyard, a real "hidden gem"! Reynard Florence is a beautiful, family-owned, boutique winery, and of all the wineries we visited on this trip, this was our favorite! And a 9a.m. wine-tasting is Definitely THE perfect way to start your day! The wine we loved the best was their Petit Manseg 2012 and 2013, which we bought to take home, and then learned that the famous Boars Head Inn carries it, too!
|Dan, at Reynard Florence Vineyard|
|Wine- it's not just for breakfast! :-)|
|A delicious assortment of |
Palladio's house-cured meats...
|Barbourville Vineyards & Palladio Restaurant|
|Wine for Lunch!|
|Wine- it's for After Lunch, too!|
|The Ruins at Barbourville|
|Dan & a Very old boxwood!|
After lunch we toured the 1884 Ruins at Barboursville of a Jefferson-designed home built for VA Governor James Barbour (who was also a US Senator and Secretary of War), and found some Very old boxwood!
|Swingin' the Love! At Wind & Weather HQ|
|Last Wine Tasting of the day! With the|
Wind & Weather team, at Early Mountain Vineyards
|Arriving at The Inn at Willow Grove...|
|Some of the lovely Wind & Weather|
surprise gifts waiting for us in our cottage... including
their adorable solar dragon, yummy spice rubs for Chef Dan,
and a "Love" sign to plant in our Elkhorn Inn garden!
Our next stop was at Wind & Weather headquarters, where we got to meet their great team, and the folks who planned our trip, and ham it up, swing dancing in front of their great "Love" sign! We then went to Early Mountain Vineyards with them all, to enjoy our last wine tasting of the day, some seriously yummy meats and cheeses, and live music- and dance a little more! :-) Dan and I have been lucky enough to do some great wine tastings in many places- notably Israel and Chile- but we have NEVER had a tasting that went from 9a.m. to 7p.m.! This was truly the Ultimate Wine & Foodie Day!
We bought some wine and wine jelly from Early Mountain Vineyards, as well as an intriguing "wildcrafted" local hickory syrup, and then checked into our truly beautiful, romantic "Weaver's Cottage" at The Inn at Willow Grove. As many of you know, Dan and I are not only in the hospitality business, having the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre in West Virginia, but we have been "road warriors" for most of our lives, and so have stayed in a LOT of hotels, motels, and other lodging- good, bad, fabulous, and awful! And we both agree that The Inn at Willow Grove has THE BEST SERVICE WE HAVE EVER EXPERIENCED IN THE USA! If you are looking for a wonderful romantic getaway in Virginia wine country, THIS IS THE PLACE! Our cottage was beautiful, the down comforter and pillows awesome, the bath fabulous, the handmade soaps and L'Occitane toiletries delightful, but it was the absolutely charming and splendid service- including our very own butler (!) who brought us hot beignets and French Press Coffee at 5a.m. before our balloon ride- that made it totally marvelous!
|Our beautiful, romantic "Weaver's Cottage"|
at the Inn at Willow Grove...
|The evening's delightful surprise at|
The Inn at Willow Grove...
|Dan, livin' large, on our cottage's porch|
at the Inn at Willow Grove!
The next day we had the true highlight of our trip- a totally enchanting hot-air balloon ride with Monticello Country Ballooning!
|Pilot Mandy, inflating the balloon with, yes, REALLY hot air!|
|Soaring over the beautiful Virginia countryside|
in our beautiful balloon...
|Up, up in the air, in our beautiful balloon!|
|Living out my fantasy!|
This is truly an enchanting way to see the beautiful Virginia countryside in early morning sunshine, watching the deer run through the forests, with our balloon casting shadows on the shimmering, velvety green fields... and our pilot, Mandy, was Excellent! Knowledgeable, experienced, and fun, she made the trip an interesting as well as enjoyable experience, letting us help unfold and inflate the balloon, and deflate and wrap it up after we landed! She made us feel safe, too, as she REALLY knows her stuff!
|Our balloon, shadowed on the countryside...|
|Mandy, preparing our apres-ballooning|
champagne toast & Mimosas!
|Sharing the Love- with each other! :-)|
Then off we went for our horseback ride through the apple orchards at Graves Mountain Lodge!
|Dan on his spirited steed!|
|Elisse on Cheyenne- the horse who would not let ANYONE get in front! LOL|
|REALLY good music at the Peach Festival!|
|BBQ & peach ice cream lunch at the Peach Festival|
|Yes, the Nexus7 takes lousy photos,|
but we had a wonderful diner at Vintages!
The next day we had an excellent private tour of President James and Dolly Madison's Montpelier Our guide was really splendid- knowledgeable and learned, and she made the tour fascinating! Dan is US Army Ret., and a history buff of the first stripe, which made this a truly great experience, and one of the highlights of our trip! It was fascinating to see the ongoing archaeology and restorations that are making Montpelier truly a living museum...
|Our Private Tour of James and Dolly Madison's Montpelier|
|Railfanning the Norfolk Southern at Montpelier Station!|
|The exhibition at Montpelier Station: |
The Montpellier Train Depot in the Time of Segregation
|The segregated waiting room at Montpelier Station|
|Gilmore Farm - Freedman's House|
|Cool stuff along the way...|
|Our last day in Virginia we went to Jefferson's Monticello, and got to see some of Jefferson's extraordinary inventions and accomplishments, and the ongoing archaeological discoveries that are continuing to change Monticello, similar to the way they way they are changing Montpelier. Having been to Montpelier made it our time here all the more interesting, as the Madisons were friends with Jefferson, & Dolly was Jefferson's hostess. We took a regular tour at Monticello, which made us TRULY appreciate the private tour we'd had at Montpelier! :-) We were hoping to be able to buy some Monticello grape vines, which they sell periodically, but as they didn't have any left, we bought two flowering vines instead, one for our inn/pet sitters, and one for us, so we can have at least a bit of Jeffersonian flora at the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre! |
|Chef Dan in the kitchen at Monticello!|
|Jefferson's grave at Monticello|
|Elisse, sharing the love with Thom!|
Before we drove home, Dan indulged me in One Last Wine Tasting at Jefferson Vineyards, as we'd so enjoyed their Viognier wine at dinner the night before!
|One final Virginia wine tasting at Jefferson Vineyards!|
Wind & Weather prize included a gift certificate for the Barracks Road Shopping Mall, and although I'm sure everyone expected I'd spend it on shoes (LOL), we spent it instead at The Happy Cook so Chef Dan could get two foodie "toys" he'd been wanting (and his birthday is Aug. 4...): a Breville Juicer and a Cuisinart Sorbet Maker- so we (he) can make Wild Blackberry Sorbet from the blackberries we pick on our ATVs all July and August!
And then we drove home, tired & happy, with our little, old convertible packed like a drum with all the fab stuff- wine, plants, Wind & Weather gifts- from our wonderful trip! THANK YOU Wind & Weather for an incredible trip we NEVER would have even Dreamed about, if not for you! And yes, we're Sharing the Love, too- the contest runner-ups are coming for a holiday (on us) at the Elkhorn Inn! :-)
|Some of the wonderful souvenirs of out Virginia trip!|